Online sales spike 19 percent

New industry report says clothing overtook electronics as No. 1 most-purchased item online in '06; total online sales forecast to grow to $174.5B in 2007.

NEW YORK ( -- As more American consumers forego crowded malls for the convenience of online shopping, total Internet-related sales are forecast to jump 19.1 percent to $174.5 billion in 2007, excluding travel, according to a new industry report Monday.

The "State of Retailing Online 2007" report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and said total online sales this year, including travel, are expected to increase 18 percent to $259.1 billion.

Online sales last year rose 29 percent to about $146.4 billion, excluding travel, representing 6 percent of overall retail sales in 2006.

Moreover, the report said for the first time Americans spent more online for clothes than on computers last year.

The report said total clothing, accessories and footwear sales reached $18.3 billion in 2006. This year, category sales are expected to hit $22.1 billion as 10 percent of all clothing sales are expected to occur online.

According to the study, many e-tailers have made it easier for consumers to buy clothes online by adding extra incentives such as free shipping on returns and exchanges

Additionally, etailers are integrating new technologies onto their Web sites where customers can zoom and rotate merchandise or see the item in different colors before buying, the report said.

Computer hardware and software, long the frontrunner for online sales, moved into second place in 2006 at $17.2 billion, followed by sales of autos and auto parts at $16.7 billion and home furnishings at $10 billion, the report said. Top of page